How to Cook Healthy for the Whole Family
A frequent topic that comes up frequently with the people we coach is how to cook healthy for the whole family, especially if each family member has different dietary needs or likes/dislikes. You might think it would be a time-consuming task, but it doesn’t have to be! It can actually be easy, time-efficient and, surprisingly, very affordable.
As a mom of two, I needed to make it easy for me to follow my nutrition program (at first the P90X nutrition plan, then later the 21 Day Fix portion control meal plan) AND make great meals my kids would actually eat—so I came up with an EASY approach to cooking healthy family meals.
Unlike we parents, our kids are NOT nearly so restricted in the foods they can eat, especially in terms of complex carbs. To address this difference in my family menu planning, I started using an “Add On” approach back when I was doing the P90X program.
Monica’s Healthy Family Meals Add On Approach
With my very simple “Add On” approach, you build your meals from a healthy base and enable you kids to add on extras, while you stick with your more restricted meal plan.
For example, let’s say you’d like to eat a (2) protein, (1) vegetable, (1) carb dinner with your family. A lean beef or turkey burger, a whole grain bun, and a small salad can be the base of the meal. Your kids can have this PLUS additional sides—like baked potato fries and/or pasta salad—AND they are not limited to smaller portions.
Healthy Family Breakfast Ideas
Here are some ideas for the base of a healthy family breakfast. You’ll stick with the bases, adjusting the portions accordingly, and allow your kids to build on this with add ons.
- Hard boiled eggs + turkey bacon
- Omelet + veggies
- Nonfat or lowfat Greek yogurt + berries (add a scoop of Shakeology for some added protein and flavor!)
- Mini breakfast tacos with corn tortillas, eggs and veggies
Suggested add ons can include whole grain toast or English muffins, cereal or granola, cheese, and ketchup or other condiments.
Healthy Family Lunch Ideas
Lunch is a great time to eat your proteins without a carb. Here are some ideas for the base of a healthy family lunch. Again, you’ll stick with the bases, adjusting the portions accordingly, and give your kids the extra add ons.
- Deli lunch meat + pickles or jicama
- Tuna salad (made with mustard and nonfat plain yogurt instead of mayo) + tomato + lettuce
- Vegetable soup with shredded chicken
Suggested add ons can include whole grain bread or tortillas for sandwiches or wraps, cheese, chips, and condiments.
Healthy Family Dinner Ideas
Here are some ideas for the base of a healthy family dinner. You know the routine—you stick with the base at the proper portions and give your kids the extra add ons.
- 96% lean ground beef burgers with lettuce and tomatoes on a whole wheat bun
- Turkey meatballs in homemade marinara with whole wheat spaghetti (if you want to skip the carb for yourself, replace the pasta with shredded zucchini or spaghetti squash)
- Chicken burritos with veggies in a whole wheat tortilla
- Street tacos with corn tortillas
- Meatloaf topped with whole wheat pasta and marinara sauce (Scroll down for my homemade bolognese recipe!)
- Turkey chili with veggies and beans
Suggested add ons can include cheese, rice, regular pasta, and bread (regular, garlic, corn, etc.). Mixed green salads work with any of these meals!
Healthy Family Snack Ideas
- Banana with cottage cheese and/or nut butter
- Berries over plain nonfat or lowfat Greek yogurt
- String cheese
- Celery with nut butter
A Healthy Pasta Family Dinner
In the video below, my co-chef Nicky and I will show you how to cook healthy for the whole family as we make one of our family’s favorite dinners—healthy pasta with homemade bolognese sauce. (Have I mentioned that you CAN eat healthy on a budget? This meal only costs about $10!)
Preparing meals from scratch allows you to control fat, sodium, and other important things when preparing healthy meals. As you can see, it’s not rocket science.
The ingredients are simple—whole grain pasta, 96% lean ground beef, organic canned diced tomatoes, olive oil, basil and garlic.
STEP 1: Brown the beef in a little bit of olive oil. Adding basil and garlic is a must for this Italian girl—it simply brings out the best in this meal.
STEP 2: While the meat is browning, you can purée the diced tomatoes.
STEP 3: In the final step, I simply pour the tomatoes over the browned beef and let it simmer on low for awhile, so that the water can evaporate, the flavors can meld, and the sauce thickens.
The kids love this meal! Check out the video:
If you’re skipping the carbs, just pour the sauce over steamed veggies! In the video below, you’ll see cauliflower cooking right above the spaghetti—this is an easy and cost effective way to prepare a healthy meal for everyone in the family.
Hopefully, this video shows you how to cook healthy for the whole family and stimulates some new ideas on how you can EASILY make everyone happy:
Buffet Style Food Prep
Since I filmed these videos and originally wrote this post, my “Add On” approach has evolved. It has made my life—and the lives of many of my customers SO much easier–that I took it further.
Today when people ask me how to cook healthy for the whole family, I send them to Buffet Style Meal Prep School!
This is a FABULOUS and SIMPLE way to cook healthy family meals that you will be so grateful to learn! Click below to start learning and changing your life for the better—and, if you’re open to assigning me as your Beachbody Coach, request to join my private Fix Family group on Facebook where you’ll get daily tips on eating healthy SIMPLY.